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Real Humans of the Dartmouth Tuck MBA Class of 2024

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Christopher Estrella, Dartmouth Tuck MBA Class of 2024

Age: 32
Hometown: New York, NY
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Williams College, Philosophy
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 10 years, K-8 Education

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
For the past 10 years I have been working in or in service of K-8 classrooms. In the three years prior to Tuck, I was a school administrator, overseeing operations for a campus of 100 staff members and 600 students. This role gave me dog years of leadership and management experience. Coming out of COVID closures and fully reopening our campus, I decided that I wanted to grow the business skills I was already using, while developing the core business knowledge I had yet to experience.

Why did you choose Dartmouth Tuck? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As a student, I have benefited from smaller educational settings where students and faculty buy into the learning experience. I do my best learning through conversation with peers and ready access to professors. Coming from a non-business background, I knew that I wanted an immersive classroom experience. As an educator, I knew I wanted faculty who care deeply about teaching, not lecturing. Tuck felt like the obvious choice.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
The full-time business school experience is marked by its countless outlets for academic, career, and social exploration. It can be very difficult to allocate time when balancing these three priorities. Working in schools has given me the ability to prioritize in instances where everything appears to be of equal importance. Additionally, I have built the communication skills to compassionately impart difficult and crucial information.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I think that cars are the most interesting things on the planet. I can identify make, model, and year (within three) for pretty much any passenger car on the road.

Post-MBA career interests:
While working in a school during COVID, my role generally consisted of coordinating highly cohesive diverse teams to answer tough questions that had never been thought of before. This experience is leading me to consulting, where I hope to broaden my problem-solving skillset while learning about new industries. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Early in the application process, I found it difficult to look back on an admissions chat or interview and know if it went well. After some time, I applied the metric that if the chat felt like a conversation, it was a good chat. This mindset was especially helpful in conversations with admissions teams and alumni. 

Additionally, admissions processes tend to think of themselves as divided into two parts. “Behavioral” and other/technical. In your process, I challenge you to think of the entire process as behavioral. Admissions teams want to know who you are as a person and how you would add meaningfully to the class.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I definitely would have started the process earlier! My process was unusual as I decided to apply in June and turned around applications while my students were on summer vacation. Give yourself the time to be intentional and thorough in the written and spoken portions of the application process.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped questioning my self-worth throughout. Putting yourself out there in the form of applications is a vulnerable process. My vulnerability specifically centered on my non-business background and wondering what value I could add to a class. To put it simply, you have something to offer. Get out there, lean in, ask questions.

What is your initial impression of the Dartmouth Tuck students/culture/community?
The Tuck community lives up to the reputation of being intelligent, caring, and compassionate. I’ve experienced this in classmates being willing to chat through class content over the weekend or professors hosting students in their office after every class.

What is one thing you have learned about Dartmouth Tuck that has surprised you?
While applying to Tuck I had heard extensively about the amazing level of alumni engagement. I have been surprised by how helpful and supportive the alumni community has been. Tuck alumni really want to connect and coach other Tuckies.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Being a few years removed from my undergraduate experience, reacclimatizing to a collegiate lifestyle is top of mind.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited to make meaningful connections with my classmates this winter. I came to Tuck hoping for an immersive experience. When it’s cold outside and with tunnels connecting our dorms to classes, we’ll spend lots of time getting to know each other.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.